Humana cuts 2019 membership forecast for prescription drug plans

(Reuters) - Health insurer Humana Inc on Wednesday said it expected a bigger drop in membership for its prescription drug plans in 2019, as it stuck to its pricing plans in an intensely competitive market.

The company now expects a fall of 750,000 to 800,000 members, compared with 500,000.

The health insurer also reiterated its adjusted earnings forecast of about $14.40 per share for the year 2018. Analysts were expecting a forecast of $14.43 per share, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Humana, however, raised the net membership growth estimate for its individual Medicare Advantage products by 100,000 members to a range of 350,000 to 400,000 members for 2019.

Individual Medicare Advantage health plans are offered to people older than 65 or those with disabilities.

The improved forecast is due to higher-than-expected sales and better retention of Medicare Advantage members, the company said in a statement.

The company also plans to buy back $750 million of its shares through an accelerated stock repurchase agreement with Goldman Sachs & Co.

(Reporting by Manas Mishra and Saumya Sibi Joseph in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)